Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 13, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm EST

6:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. the devastating earthquake claims thousands of lives in haiti. >> ifill: i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight, schools, hospitals and government buildings have collapsed. we get the latest on the crisis in port-au-prince. >> lehrer: international groups are scrambling to send emergency help. margaret warner reports. >> ifill: then, an interview with rajiv shah, the administration official charged
6:01 pm
with coordinating the u.s. relief effort. >> lehrer: then, the investigation into the causes of the financial crisis. kwame holman covers day one of the hearings. >> ifill: and jeffrey brown looks at cyber-attacks and censorship-- google's threat to pull out of china. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's "pbs newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by: >> what the world needs now is energy. the energy to get the economy humming again. the energy to tackle challenges like climate change. what if that energy came from an energy company? every day, chevron invests $62 million in people, in ideas-- seeking, teaching, building. fueling growth around the world to move us all ahead. this is the power of human energy. chevron.
6:02 pm
>> bnsf railway. toyota grant thornton and by the alfred p. sloan the national science foundation. supporting education and research across all fields of science and engineering. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and
6:03 pm
foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: hundreds of buildings were destroyed, and the haitian president said 30,000 to 50,000 people could be dead. other estimates ranged as high as 500,000. u.s. officials were checking reports of three americans killed out of 45,000 living in haiti. judy woodruff begins our coverage. >> woodruff: the light of morning brought the catastrophe in the caribbean clearly into view. huge swaths of port au prince had been reduced to ruins, and thousands of people gathered on the streets seeking shelter.
6:04 pm
they were left dazed by the region's most powerful earthquake in more than 200 years. it struck about an hour before nightfall on tuesday, just ten miles west of the haitian capital, home to two million people. >> the world is coming to an end. >> woodruff: this amateur cell phone video, posted on youtube, showed a huge cloud of dust rising from the city. homes, hospitals, schools and office buildings simply collapsed, trapping unknown thousands. survivors poured outside, hoping to escape. some tried to pull others out to safety. australian aid worker ian rodgers of save the children was in port au prince, and reported scenes of chaos. >> the infrastructure is all down at the moment. there is no power. it's very, very dark. earlier in the evening, before it got too dark, you were hearing a lot of people obviously breathing and a lot of distress going on, looking for their missing relatives. we are really quite concerned about children and families at the moment and what's going to happen.
6:05 pm
>> woodruff: the ornate presidential palace-- seen here in a photo before the quake-- crumbled into itself, but the president and first lady were not injured. dozens of other government buildings, including the parliament, also caved in. the main prison in port au prince was in ruins, and inmates escaped. throughout last night, makeshift camps and hospitals were set up, and the bodies of the dead were piled on the streets. but more than 30 aftershocks rocked the area, hindering rescue efforts. some 9,000 united nations peacekeepers are serving in haiti. at least 14 were killed and many were injured when their headquarters collapsed. the mission chief and more than 150 others were missing. the headquarters of the international red cross was also destroyed.
6:06 pm
the organization said one third of haiti's nine million people may need emergency aid. the quake also claimed the life of the archbishop of port-au- prince. this is a majority catholic country, and pope benedict xvi spoke at the vatican. >> ( translated ): i assure my spiritual closeness to those who have lost their homes, and to all the people who are suffering in various ways for this calamity, imploring from god consolation and relief for their sufferings. >> woodruff: the earthquake was a devastating blow to haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. the country is still recovering from a series of hurricanes and tropical storms in 2008 that killed more than 800 people. in washington today, president obama pledged u.s. "unwavering" support. >> with just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, haitians are our neighbors in the americas and here at home.
6:07 pm
our thoughts and prayers are also with the many haitian- americans around our country, who do not yet know the fate of their families and loved ones back home. >> woodruff: from miami to new york and elsewhere, haitian- americans began gathering last night to wait for news. >> no, i only got a busy sound. >> woodruff: some tried in vain to reach families all night. >> i have a lot of sisters there, and i went over there in july to spend time with them. i don't know if i will have a chance to see them again. >> woodruff: in miami's little haiti section this morning, a mass for the earthquake victims was held at the cathedral of st. mary. the disaster affected all, from everyday people to community leaders, including phillip brutus, the first haitian american elected to the state legislature in florida. >> a lot of people are unaccounted for. my wife is in haiti. i have a five-year-old in haiti. she sent me a text yesterday.
6:08 pm
the text started and then i didn't get the end of the text, and i've been trying to text ever since. hopefully, they are okay. >> woodruff: in chicago, haitian-americans gathered at a local community center and church to seek comfort. >> i mean, i'm panicked. you have your friends, your relatives, your parents there. the haitian broadcast of the voice of america went into expanded service, even though its main transmitter in haiti was destroyed in the quake. 50% of haitians listen to the v.o.a. ronald cesar is the service director in washington. >> v.o.a. creole service was able to set up a phone number for haitians to call and leave messages for their loved ones, and we would play those messages in our broadcast. >> woodruff: still, most forms of communication were down in haiti, leaving many to wait for more news in the coming days. >> lehrer: now, the view from port-au-prince. hari sreenivasan spoke earlier today, through a skype video
6:09 pm
connection, with freelance journalist ansel herz. he's been a radio reporter in haiti for the past four months. we started by asking him to describe the last 24 hours. >> reporter: extremely hecht and i can crazy since the earthquake struck. i basically left my house, which shook quite a bit but thank god it did not fall, unlike many of the military story houses and buildings in the neighborhood, which have fallen. i've basically just been in the streets shooting footage and talking to people. i made a point of trying to get downtown and seeing the national tower, for example, it collapsed in on itself, in different parts. also the headquarters of the international peacekeeping force here, basically collapsed entirely. and so the peacekeepers are really occupy, i think, with a lot of their own personnel who have died. people are basically in the
6:10 pm
streets trying to stay away from buildings and walls and things that could collapse. they're trying to survive at this point. there's not much in the way of rescue efforts, really nothing in the way of rescue efforts that i've seen in the streets. and i think haitians are just trying to come together just to help each other out. i've seen a lot of people trying to be pulled from the rubble, from buildings, throughout port-au-prince. >> sreenivasan: you said there's a lot of people still out on the streets. are they just too afraid to go into their homes? have there been a lot of aftershocks? >> yeah, actually, the last aftershock they felt was just a few minutes ago. i really did not expect to feel that because before that, the previous one was at midnight. so i think we went most of this past day without feeling any aftershocks , but feeling another one actually just a few minutes ago was scary. >> sreenivasan: what's the status of emergency services there? are there any police on the streets? are there any ambulances trying to get people to hospitals? what's the state of hospitals,
6:11 pm
if you've been near one? >> reporter: i haven't been inside a hospital, but i've seen a few. they do seem to be operate be, but the hospitals here in port-au-prince already are notorious for just being understaffed and sometimes unreliable and crowded. in terms of emergency relief efforts out in the streets, i really saw none in terms of the peacekeepers being able to start to pull people from rubble or start reconstruction or provide shelter or aid agencys, n.g.o.s, the haitian government eye saw no official relief efforts in the streets while i was out there in downtown . i just did see a lot of haitians ordinary haitians trying to pull people out from the national cathedral, for example. there was a woman there who was basically crushed beneath a door which was just open a crack so people were swinging with pick axes to try to pry that open. a lot of schools collapsed, and people are searching for children that may be still alive beneath the rubble.
6:12 pm
but, you know, again in terms of emergency relief, from official agencies, i've really seen nothing. >> sreenivasan: you've spoken to people out there. what's the sentiment? i mean, are they resigned? are they frustrated at the lack any of official resources to come in and help? are they just trying to find their relatives? what are they saying? >> reporter: people are trying to survive. you know, some people who i spoke to just didn't really have anything to say. i think they're sort of in a state of shock, just kind of crazy. haiti doesn't deserve this at all. and i think people are just trying to survive at this point. i don't think there's really much expectation that the government can do a lot to help because the government here is relatively weak. it doesn't have a lot of resources in terms of being able to help people out , you know, in terms of ambulances trying to rescue people. i've seen probably three or four driving throughout the streets in the past 24 hours, you know, so that's not many.
6:13 pm
and i just think people are really not sure what's going to happen. they're not sure who they can-- who they can rely on in terms of the government or aid agencies or other nations . you know, i heard people say that they just-- they want help from whoever can provide it. >> ifill: if more we're joined by greg elder for doctor without borders. he oversees la trinite hospital in port-au-prince but he's based in new york. and yves colon, a former "miami herald" reporter and editor who now teaches journalism at the university of miami. he was born in haiti and and is involved with several haitian american groups and charities working in that country. professor colon, i want to start with you because i know you have family in haiti and i wonder the latest you have heard about their whereaboutss and the situation on the ground. >> well, so far, no news whatsoever, gwen. it's really fre frustrating, and i think that's what's really
6:14 pm
bothering us here that we haven't been able to get any word about my family, specific, about my mom who lives there. she's all alone. and we've been spending, since last night, just looking at twiter and facebook and all the other news channels, hoping for word. but , you know, it's been impossible. i keep calling and i haven't been able to get through. at first it was a busy signal, and then now , there is nothing at all. you know, the lines are-- i imagine, all the cell towers are down , and i think, you know, we've been spending the whole day in complete frustration. >> ifill: dr. elder as you've been trying to get relief on the ground there, how has the communication problem been acting and you you and how do you get a reliable assessment of what the damage, is what the needs are? >> thank you for inviting us here to discuss this. communications have been a problem. we were able to make communication quite quickly
6:15 pm
after the earthquake and were able to stay in contact with the team if. most of the evening and through the day today but certainly communications has been a problem . what we do know-- and our team has been able to paint a picture for us of what happened during the evening-- it was chaotic. people were on the streets . they didn't know where to go, where to turn for help. we had to basically move through the streets on foot to try to assist the extent of the damage to our own health structures and other health structures so we could see whether or not there would be functioning. facilities today. >> ifill: are the health facilities not there any more? we heared red cross has said their medical supplys are exhausted. >> we've been working in haiti for some time.
6:16 pm
we have a trauma center and maternity hospital, and nearly 800 staff on the ground in port-au-prince. so we already had facilities functioning. those facilities structurally have been so badly damaged we've had to evacuate patients out of those facilities into the neighboring grounds. but we've been aubl to set up some tented able to set up some tented first aid centers today. they have been overwhelmed, exhausted already in port-au-prince. the health system is rather fragile and the hospitals we have visited during the evening and during the day have been overwhelmed. so we're sort of trying to fill a gap in the short term and wreen force that in the coming days with inflateable hospital and surgical facilities that will be flown in from the u.s. and from europe in the coming 48 hours. >> ifill: yves colon, for those who have not been to port-au-prince, give us a description of what, before this happened, it was.
6:17 pm
it was not the best of situations physically, even before this happened. >> no, it's not. you know, port-au-prince was a small city that was built for maybe less than 100,000 people, and now it's about two million people. and it's-- its streets are clogged all the time with traffic and housing is at a premium in haiti so the only place to go is -- is to crowd the house next door. so it's a very, very, very crowded environment. and more and more people have been building towards the hills, and getting away from downtown port-au-prince. so, yeah, it was not-- it was not a comfortable place to begin with. and over the past 20, 30 years, it has gotten even more and more crowded as more people from the countryside have been coming in to the capital looking for work looking for education, looking for a way to make a
6:18 pm
living. so it's a place, also, where there's very little control in building. no building rules, zoning rules per se . you might have-- you might take a permit to build a house in port-au-prince but you will not find any inspectors, really, checking out to see whether you are doing the right thing. so this is the kind of environment that port-au-prince is. it's very shoddy construction , and you have the hillsides all around the city that are populated with-- that are small. buildings that you find in other places, slums, very small buildings , one-room houses, a block that are basically hanging on to sides of the hill. and that's basically how it is. >> ifill: let me ask dr. elder, you work in disaster areas like
6:19 pm
this around the country, in place where's there aren't disasters, arbtd world, how does this compare to something like, say, the asian tsunami , the scope of the damage? >> well, it's a catastrophic event. as the professor said, port-au-prince is a very congested city with a high population and a relatively poor infrastructure. so it's really a catastrophic event where absolutely no one knows really what the scope of this is in terms of casualtys and fatalities . it will be some time before anyone can tell that because people are buried under the rubble. also, the existing infrastructure and ability to respond to an emergency is really not very strong in haiti and is rather dependent on international support, international organizations to be able to fill that gap. >> ifill: yves colon i have to ask you, you're right there in miami.
6:20 pm
little haiti is a big neighborhood in . the city, what has the reaction been there today? >> i think everyone is feeling a great deal of frustration. like i said before the only news haitians are getting is trickling through from word of mouth. no one has been able to reach their families, so every haitian in mime wants to know what's happening. everyone has family members in port-au-prince or elsewhere, and everyone is look for news. you know, the only way that i got news today about what's happening with our students, for example, the at the haitian education leadership program, help, in haiti sthrough word of people sending skype and twiter feeds and all that. and a lot of haitians don't have computers here. they don't have access to this kind of technology and information so everyone is basically stuck because they are
6:21 pm
all relying on cell phones. so there's a great deal of frustration, and anger, really, that people want to know what's happening. i think not knowing, as it is happening for us, not knowing is terrible. we all want to know what's going on, what can we do? and we feel totally helpless. if i can speak--. >> ifill: i was just saying-- depending on the u.s. government to help you with, to help you establish those communication, or is that something your own storbl networks are being able to fill that gap? >> well, i'm relying on friends who are work ago i'm a former reporter for the "miami herald" and i have friends down in haiti right now and before i left last night, i gave them my mother's number, and other friends who are working for other news outlets who are also going down to haiti. and that's what i'm relying on, really, to try to get me word, try to find out what's going on with my mom. but, otherwise, i keep calling, you know, and i'm not going to stop calling on the cell phone to see hopefully that some
6:22 pm
, soon anyway, i'll hear something. >> ifill: we wish you all luck in finding your family and it being a happy finding, and so thank you very much, yves colon, and also, to greg elder in new york. thank you. >> thank you, gwen. >> lehrer: joining us now from the united nations is undersecretary general john holmes. he's in charge of humanitarian affairs. mr. holmes, welcome. >> thank you, good evening. >> lehrer: how would you, based on your information coming from the united nations, how would you describe the situation there tonight? >> i think the situation, particularly in the capital, port-au-prince, is traumatic and tragic. clearly, the devastation caused by the earthquake is extremely widespread . we believe and fear there are hundreds, possibly thousands of victims still in the rubble in houses and buildings of various kinds, and u.n. members, staff, among them. the top priority is to get the search and rescue
6:23 pm
teams, the proper equipment in there before it's too late. as you know, every moment kountss. i think there are teams arriving from china, the united states, and from the dominican republic and elsewhere. we need to get the teams in there quickly to save lives. the next part i think for us is going to be medical help. the medical infrastructure such as it is in port-au-prince has been clearly overwhelmed by the number of victims kbhz of course hospitals have been destroyed or badly damaged by the earthquake itself. those are two of the priorities we're facing but it is a very dramatic and huge tragedy for the people of haiti and exactly what they don't need after all they've been through. >> lehrer: mr. holmes, there have been estimates up to 30,000 in terms of the death toll. >> i'm leery of giving numbers. there are hbdz, probably thousands of dead but we simply don't know. i don't want to give you a figure.
6:24 pm
let's wait to see until we get a bit more information. whatever the exact figure sit's clearly a major tragedy. there will be a major humanitarian relief effort to be mounted as well as the search and rescue efforts i talked about so we will have a lot on our plates in the next few days. >> lehrer: what about the situation on port-au-prince. the united nations had peacepeacekeepers there. some of them were obviously injured and killed, so give us that perspective. >> i think there are a lot of people on the street because they have nowhere else to go. they spent the night on the street partly because there is nowhere else to go and part lie because of fear of aftershocks because they are continuing and so people are beginning to need the kind of emergency aid we will want to provide them in terms of shelter, food, clean water, sanitation, the basics of life. for the moment, it seems reasonably calm. the u.n. peacekeepers are helping to try to maintain law and order on the streets to make sure that they-- the major installations of the port and airport and other public
6:25 pm
buildings are secure, that the roads are open, and that-- they're also helping to give as much aid to people as they possibly keven despite the problems we have of our own. >> lehrer: is the haitian government functioning? >> well, i think the haitian government is beginning to start to recover from what's going to-- been a tremendous shock. this is not a government havew a huge capacity to start with. it is a very poor and underdeveloped country. i think they have been knocked sideways by the extent of this trag bee. the individual members of the services, the fire brigade and so on are concerned about their own family so i think there is a long way to go to reestablish services but i see the first signs of the government starting to function again. >> lehrer: speak of the trag deerkz describe the tragedy that hit your folks, that hit the u.n. people in port-au-prince, and give us some feel for what happened and what the result has been. >> well, the biggest problem is that the main lks of the u.n. peacekeeping mission , a building
6:26 pm
called the hotel christopher, collapsed more or less completely as i understand it. it was a five-story concrete building, apparently robust, and it claepsd almost completely. many people were trapped inside. normally 200 people work there. we believe at least 100 may still be trapped under the rubble. we're desperately trying goat them out. we don't know if they're dead or alive. it's a desperate struggle against time helped by the brazilian peacekeepers in this particular case but without the right equipment to do the job as we'd like to do it. it's particularly tragic for us because the skinl and his deputy are both trapped under the rubble. we don't know what their condition is, either. it's a huge loss for the united nations. other peacekeepers in other places have died or been injured so that's the biggest problem we face at the moment. >> lehrer: there's been a report from the president of haiti that ambassador anoby
6:27 pm
, chief of the u.n. mission in haiti, has been one of the victims. is that correct? >> i can't confirm that. as far as i know, we're still looking for him under the rubble with many others so i can't confirm that report and i certainly hope it's not true. >> lehrer: can you confirm any of the deaths among the u.n. mission people? >> we certainly have some deaths. i think at least five people have been pulled out dead from the rubble. there may well be others. we've saved some people , badly injured, but i can't give you more specific figures. it's still a very fluid moving target so it's very hard to give you definitive answers to questions like, that i'm afraid. >> lehrer: all right, mr. holmes thank you very much for this update. >> thank you. >> ifill: as the cries for help went out from haiti, the promises of action came in. margaret warner has that part of the story. >> warner: within hours, governments and aid organizations around the globe scrambled to mobilize a massive disaster relief effort for haiti.
6:28 pm
in washington, president obama, promised all out humanitarian and rescue operations for america's caribbean neighbor. >> the people of haiti will have the full support of the united states in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief-- the food, water and medicine-- that haitians will need in the coming days. >> warner: with the chaos in haiti, and the u.n. peacekeeping operation there out of commission for now, the job of coordinating the massive international response to the tragedy has fallen to washington. the u.s. isn't functioning as a gatekeeper, but definitely as a clearinghouse. the u.s. is mounting the biggest effort so far, headed by rajiv shah, the administrator for the u.s. agency for international development. shah told reporters today that the immediate focus is on saving lives, and preparing for longer term relief. >> we have two urban search and
6:29 pm
rescue units on their way, both are units with 72 individuals, people who have significant training and expertise for rescue in urban settings drill through, clear as much as is possible rubble to identify who can continue with the mission of saving lives. >> warner: the u.s. military is heavily involved as well. general douglas fraser, head of the u.s. southern command, said its push is to get assessment teams on the ground, and bolster haiti's battered infrastructure. >> so we're focused on getting command and control and communications there so that we can really get a better understanding of what's going on. the bottom line to it is we don't have a clear assessment of what the situation on the ground is, what the needs within port- au-prince are, how extensive the situatiois. we also finally have a team that's headed to the airport. from my understanding, because my deputy commander just happened to be in haiti when
6:30 pm
this situation happened on a previously scheduled visit, he has been to the airport. he says the runway is functional but the tower doesn't have communications capability, the passenger terminal has structural damage, too, so we don't we don't know what the status is. >> warner: also headed haiti's way are u.s. coast guard vessels and an aircraft carrier. and being readied to deploy-- 2,000 marines to provide security or assist relief efforts. local search and rescue teams from fairfax county, virginia, and los angeles county will be among the first on the ground. the fairfax county unit took about 70,000 pounds of equipment with them. david rohr is assistant chief of operations. >> our role, once we arrive in country, is to go out, to send a recon team out that has people from those different specialties. and they will survey the buildings and they will look to see if we can do any surface rescues. they will evaluate buildings
6:31 pm
that have a higher probability of having live victims in them. and we'll set up search teams. >> warner: and dozens of other countries are also eager to help: rescue squads and trained search dogs were being sent to haiti from china, britain, and germany, which also pledged financial assistance. >> ( translated ): the german we have already decided this morning to make aid in amount of one million euros available on humanitarian grounds, so that help can be administered quickly, although we all know that this is just a small contribution. >> warner: but all countries and agencies agree, it won't be easy to operate. france's foreign minister bernard kouchner spoke with reporters this morning. >> ( translated ): let's not have too many illusions. we have to act as quickly as possible, but there is always some kind of difficulty accessing the buildings. >> warner: also mobilizing are the major international relief agencies, as well as smaller ones. the international red cross said it would send a plane tomorrow loaded with body bags. and online, agencies and
6:32 pm
individuals mobilized to gather donations and coordinate volunteer efforts. >> lehrer: we get an update now from dr. rajiv shah, the administrator of the u.s. aid agency. i talked with him earlier this evening from the state department. before i spoke with u.n. official john holmes i spoke with him.- elcome. >> thank you. >> lehrer: dr. , how would you describe the extent of the u.s. assistance effort this evening? >> first, let me just say that , especially with with respect to this earthquake in haiti, this has been the worst national disaster and worst earthquake haiti has had in centuries. so this is a tragic time and a tragic meemt for the haitian people. and for the many american citizens that live and work and contribute to haitian society and our thoughts and prayers go out to them. the president has ordered a swift, aggressive, and coordinated response , and we are
6:33 pm
working aggressively across the federal government to put together all the assets and capabilities we have to help embark on a search-and-rescueue mission, to help evacuate key members of the u.s. personnel base that are there, and to help work with the haitian government to first get through this immediate tragedy, and then lay the groundwork for an effort to rebuild and sustain the effort. so we are doing absolutely everything we can right now , and we are following the president's very strong involvement in order to make sure that we are swift, we are aggressive, and we are coordinated in doing this work. >> lehrer: when you say "everything," is step number one priority number one, to find victims, dead or alive, and get that situation taken care of first? >> yes, our number one goal in the first 72 hours after a disaster like this is too save lives. and so we have stood up and are
6:34 pm
keemploying multiple urban search-and-rescueue teams. these are teams that are trained and have technical capability, equipment, and experience in going into these types of situations in urban areas, digging through rubble, searching for survivors, and doing everything we can to help the haitian people and sohelp american citizens and so many others have from the international community survive to the extent that that is possible in the first 72 hours. >> lehrer: how many teams are going, and have any of them arrived yet, and what's the plan for their arrival? >> well, we do have a number of teams set up. we are working effectively with the department of defense , and our military capabilities to use military transport to make sure we get these teams on the ground in haiti. we have one team on the ground, and we will expand that number significantly over the next few hours and through the night. these teams, when they get on the ground, will work all night.
6:35 pm
they will deploy, and they will begin the work as soon as they get there. so each team is about 72 people. they have technical training, and they have equipment and capabilities. we're also work across the international community, working with partners like the united kingdom, the dominican republic, other ands that are providing different resources that will be part of this effort and it will be important logistic support and additional personnel to help this be as successful as is possible in this short time frame. >> lehrer: so some americans who were there when the earthquake hit, you're trying to bring some of those out, but you're bringing other americans in to help in the rescue effort? is that correct? that is correct. of course, the americans we're bringing in are technically trained prflzs in disaster assistance and response. they will be doing the surveillance. they will be coordinating with the united nations , and their capabilities to make sure we identify the most important targets and begin working in those buildings ,
6:36 pm
and they'll be, again, laying the plans and the ground work for what we hope is a significant rebuild effort and disaster recovery effort. so we're sending in technicals and professionals to do a very difficult job in a very difficult context. as you know, they're still experiencing tremors and other aftershocks from the earthquake. and so it is a difficult environment. a number of our partners have lost many, many of their team members , and it's a difficult environment, but we're going to work aggressively, and we're going to work across the federal government, so the state department and department of defense will provide significant support for the efforts as are others. we're working with the department of health and medical units we're working with, the department of homeland security and fema to make sure we expand our sech and rescue effort as quickly as possible sglerp from your spinach, from people that you have on the ground and any other contacts, can you add any light on what the
6:37 pm
disastener human terms is right now ious in other words what the death toll and possible injury toll is at that stage? >> well, this is a tremendous disaster of significant scale. i don't think it is helpful to try to guess numbers at this point. our sole focus per the president a strong guidance is to focus on saving lives in the first 72 hours, and that's exactly what we'll do. so we'll look for opportunities to do good in that way and that's on behalf of the american people and we have skilled, trained professionals that have do that. >> lehrer: i realize we're only 24 hours into this, what are the priors in terms of need? is the priority to send professionals like you're sending, technical people as you said? is it money? is it food? is it medical supplys? what are the critical needs right now and how would you characterize them? >> we're trying to do a number of things to meet some
6:38 pm
needs. one of the needs here in the united states is making sure people have the ability to access information about their loved ones and their family members that may be in haiti. we've set up a saint hot line at 888-407-4747. so americans can call into that number and enquire about family members in haiti. in terms of needs in haiti, they are what you expect. in the first 72 hours it is urban search and rescue, clear debris and try to identify individuals we think we can save and lives we can save. beyond that had will be significant health needs, water and sanitation needs, and we're working on plans to make sure food is available and accessible in safe and secure virmtz. and we're also keeping our eye on a security situation and a number of other sectors where we'll be very focused as this unfolds in the coming days and weeks. >> lehrer: dr. shah, thank you
6:39 pm
very much. >> thank you, jim. >> lehrer: and still to come on the newshour: tough questions about the financial crisis; and google threatens to leave china. >> ifill: that follows the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. death toll in afghanistan grew again today. four american troops, a french soldier, and four afghan troops were killed in separate attacks. 14 americans have died in the fighting so far this month. and for 2009, the u.n. reported the death toll among afghan civilians was the highest since the war began. more than 2,400 afghans died in violence last year, 14% more than the year before. 70 percent of those deaths were attributed to taliban attacks. the u.s. supreme court will decide whether to give broad anti-trust protection to the national football league. the league argued for that status today for purposes of selling n.f.l.-branded merchandise. the case involved a headgear company that sued the n.f.l. over being shut out of a licensing deal. major league baseball is currently the only professional sports league with full anti-trust protection.
6:40 pm
in economic news, a white house report today credited the economic stimulus package with creating or saving two million jobs. the president's council of economic advisers said economic growth last year would have been two percentage points lower without the stimulus, meaning roughly two million fewer jobs than there are now. republicans have sharply criticized the administration's counting methods. the rally has resumed on wall street. the dow jones industrial average gained 53 points today, to close above 10,680. the nasdaq rose more than 25 points to close just under 2,308. those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you'll find tonight on the newshour's web site. but for now, back to gwen. >> ifill: top bankers faced tough questions on capitol hill today about their role during, and since, last year's financial collapse. newshour congressional correspondent kwame holman has our report on the first hearing in a major investigation. >> holman: the chair of the
6:41 pm
commission looking into the financial meltdown made clear at the outset of today's hearing that the panel is determined to find out what caused the collapse. >> ... a full and fair inquiry into what brought our financial system to its knees. >> holman: the bipartisan ten- member panel was created by congress and will meet throughout the year. the commission will issue a report next december, but is not expected to make any recommendations. the first witnesses were wall street executives, who apologized for the risky behavior that led to the crisis. each of their companies received billions of dollars in government support at the height of the meltdown. john mack is chairman of morgan stanley. >> we recognize our industry has much to do to regain the trust of taxpayers, investors, and public officials. >> holman: brian moynihan is c.e.o. of bank of america, which is a newshour underwriter. >> i want all of you and the american people to know that i fully understand and appreciate the gravity of the crisis that
6:42 pm
we are now just coming through. we are grateful for the courage shown by government leaders to take bold and unprecedented action to preserve the financial system. >> holman: but the executives also defended their firms' bonus and compensation practices, which have drawn the ire of president obama, members of congress, and the public. commissioner heather murren, a retired merrill lynch director, pressed goldman sachs chief executive lloyd blankfein on the issue. goldman is expected to award billions of dollars in bonuses next week. >> how can you reconcile these things, given what's going on in the country economically? and do you feel that your compensation adequately reflects your firm's behaviors, what the standards of the times are? >> if you look at the history of our compensation, the compensation always correlated with the results of the firm, as it did last year. >> holman: blankfein noted that he and other top executives at goldman did not receive bonuses last year. commission chairman phil
6:43 pm
angelides, a former democratic treasurer of california, sharply questioned him about goldman's practice of packaging risky mortgages and selling them to investors at the same time the firm took financial positions betting against those troubled assets. >> what we do is risk management. because we had this risk, because we were accumulating positions-- which, by the way, we acquired from clients who wanted to sell them to us-- we have to go out ourselves and provide and source the other side of the transactions, so we that can manage our risk. these are all exercises in risk management. >> well, i'm just going to be blunt with you-- it sounds to me a little bit like selling a car with faulty brakes, and then buying an insurance policy on the buyer of those cars. it doesn't seem to me that that's a practice that inspires confidence in the markets. >> every purchaser... every purchaser of an asset here is an
6:44 pm
institution, probably professional-only investors dedicated in most cases to this business... >> holman: ... representing pension funds who have the life savings of police officers... >> these are the professional investors who want this exposure. >> holman: meanwhile, commissioner douglas holtz- eakin, a republican and former director of the congressional budget office, asked j.p. morgan chase c.e.o. jamie dimon whether his firm adequately looked at risks in the housing market. >> you had been doing stress tests prior to the crisis? >> yeah. >> did you do a stress test that showed housing prices falling? >> no. i would say that was probably one of the big misses. we stressed almost everything else, but we didn't see home prices going down almost 40%. >> holman: today's hearing was just the beginning for the commission. members warned the executives that they should be prepared to answer more questions in the future. >> lehrer: finally tonight,
6:45 pm
google's china threat. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: it was an unusual sight in beijing this morning as a handful of people created a makeshift memorial outside google's offices, responding to news that the internet giant might pull out of china. in response to attacks on its web site, including breaches of email accounts belonging to human rights activists. there was praise for google's move. >> ( translated ): they are letting us know the truth. >> brown: and worries about the impact. >> ( translated ): i feel it is a pity. even though it doesn't affect all of my life, but it is a real hassle if we don't have google. >> brown: the world's leading search company announced yesterday it had discovered what it called a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" on it and perhaps 34 other companies, adding that the attacks clearly came from within china. as a result, chief legal officer david drummond wrote:
6:46 pm
google launched its google.cn site in china in 2006, agreeing to abide by government strictures that filter out searches for certain banned topics, such as taiwan, tibet, or the tianamen square massacre, a stance that had brought criticism from rights groups. in 2008, margaret warner asked the then-head of google's china operation about its willingness to agree to government filtering of information. >> some people ask us, "why do we choose to filter?" but really, that's not the question. we didn't have a choice of filter or not filter. our choices are, a) we filter, comply by the law and have a legal presence in china, or b) we don't enter china.
6:47 pm
and we feel that we chose "a" because we felt to engage and to offer as much information as we could was the right decision. >> brown: google's turnaround ups the corporate stakes in the world's most populous country, and also raises tensions between china and the united states. secretary of state clinton issued a statement, saying: "we look to the chinese government for an explanation. the ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy." for its part, chinese authorities were reported to be "seeking more information on google's statement." and while a few chinese citizens had learned of the fight with google, most knew little or nothing of the news, which was itself heavily censored. for more now on the google move and its possible impacts both inside and outside china, we turn to: xiao qiang-- he is director of the china internet project at the university of california at berkeley's graduate school of journalism, and is also founder and editor-in-chief of "china digital times," a bilingual
6:48 pm
china news web site. and andrew lih is director of new media at university of southern california's annenberg school of communication and journalism. andrew lih, how big a deal is this, and why? it's a pretty big deal. i think when people saw the post went up on a corporate blog, directly challenging the prc's policies, that was a huge event in the chinese cyberspace and also in corporate relations in the pacific. it's a real interesting set of developments because google, for a while, has been trying to find its feet in china, and this, to many people, was the last straw in terms of trying to figure out where exactly they stood with the chinese government. >> brown: and xiao quiang, fill in some of the pictures for us. what do we been these cyber-attacks? who were they aimed at and it st clear yet whether it came from the chinese government? >> the chinese
6:49 pm
government agents have been using a cyber hacking mgsd -- method, both inside of china and outside of china and well-known and researched fact. since the year of 2002. the google's gmail experience is just latest example. what's significant is a company like google made this public. i understand that it is an internet company who operates entirelyly based on the trust of the clients, or users, the service like gmail, cannot afford to lose their confidence from their client s that google has the capability to protect their privacy. so this attack is serious. and, of course, like andrew said this is only the last straw that google is experiencing in
6:50 pm
china.a- perating in a sensored , highly censored environment. >> brown: the perceived wisdom is these companies cannot afford not to be in chine and, therefore, acquiesce. does this look like the beginning of some kind of major turnaround in that attitude? >> i think it shows that companies are only willing to stay around for so long, or at least google is leading the way now, in terms of having the deck stacked against them. when i was living in beijing just last year, i was at a talk with the american chamber of commerce, and any company that does business in china knows that there are lots of obstacles. some are natural. some are very artificial, imposed by the government. so i asked the question to a roomful of business leaders if the deck is it tacked against you does it make sense to play the game? we've seen from google they have internal challenges.
6:51 pm
the charismatic leader of their chinese operations is no longer with them. he went off to start another venture but within china they've had challenges. they've had the scrutiny of the authorities and of media organizations like the central television station, where they did a report saying that google has loued lewd content on their web site, even though other search engines have the same type of content. google probably thought they weren't treated fairly for some time in china and this is pretty much the last straw. google is willing to play by the rules, but suddenly in in case of possible corporate espionage inside their offices in chine afs a pretty alarming thing for google to discover. >> brown: of course, xiao quiang google worldwide is the world leader but in china they are not the leader-- >> number third in the market. >> lehrer: number third-- number three. what does that mean in terms of
6:52 pm
the leverage the chinese gcht has against google? might they just be prepared to say, "you don't like it? go away." >> we really should put this in the context of the google event in a larger context which is it's not google versus china. it's more the internet versus the authoritarian regime,. fundamentally the internet is an enabler. it's empowering people to organize information, effectively use information and work together, collaboration, and even mobilize collective actions. from those point of view, google's services as a product, the leading services, empowering people to do so. and the chinese government fundamentally cannot live in peace with such empowering factor of technology . therefore, they cannot live in peace with google, period.
6:53 pm
so when the internet is getting larger and larger in china, the internet users are more and more politically active, and the political speechs have become more and more proactive, then the government has to intensify its measure to a higher and higher degree, and then to the point a company like a google cannot take it any more. so this is the fundamental. issue of china's government versus the internet. >> brown: andrew lih, that suggests other companies will have to make similar decisions. in fact, there are other american-based companies that were also attacked. and, of course, it also suggests that these tensions that i referred to in the setup between the governments will be exacerbated. >> yeah, this could be very interesting to see the repercussioning of this because does google become the pioneer in giving other companies the boldness to say , wait a minute, we're going to reevaluate all of our operation in addition china
6:54 pm
and whether this bargain we've made over the years is worth it anymore. google has a famous saying, "don't be evil." that's kind of their corporate mantra. when they filtered their searches off will google, it was distasteful to many people, but google was confident they weren't being evil. now they're reevaluating the entire situation again. and a lot of other companies will be as well if this is part of the new landscape where they can not even trust the security of their services, officers, and employees in china because this does have implications for their workforce in china as well. >> brown: just a brief last worked xiao quiang, is there room fair compromise here? what do you expect to happen next? >> well, i don't see the chinese government today as the most powerful authoritarian regime will compromise what they perceive as a regime security with a company like a google. but in the long run, i do think . google represents the future of the internet.
6:55 pm
the chinese government can run what they call the chinter-net. i think ultimately, chinter-net will lose. >> brown: thank you very much. >> the >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day: haiti lay stricken after its worst earthquake in more than 200 years. estimates of the dead ranged from 50,000 to 500,000. and the u.s. and other nations launched an all-out relief effort. aid officials warned three million haitians could need food, medical supply and shelter. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan in our newsroom previews what's there. hari. >> sreenivasan: we have much more on haiti, including interviews with two people who visited there recently. trinity university professor robert maguire explains why the quake was particularly devastating to the fragile nation. and father gerry creedon urged the world community not to abandon the island country. if you want to help haitians, find a listing of organizations responding to the crisis.
6:56 pm
and of course, we'll continue to post updates, photos and interviews as we get them. also on the site tonight, "patchwork nation" director dante chinni discusses how the unemployment picture has changed over the past year all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm gwen ifill. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm

397 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on